A glimse into the life of a Trained Nurse serving in the QARANC.

Mrs Jill McNair (nee Hall)

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. Served as a Nursing Officer, holding the rank of Lieutenant, at BCGH from March 1952 to September 1953, including, service at Britcom Z Medical Unit, Seoul, Korea from May 1953 to end of July 1953 as one of 3 QA’s and 2 RAANC Nursing Officers in a 100 bedded hospital.

How interesting that you served at BCGH more or less the same time as me. I shall try to answer some of your questions with regard to your article ‘A Medic in the Korean War’.

The number of hospital beds varied, I worked on many different wards during my tour. The largest was the huge casualty surgical ward with approximately eighty beds. You would remember this as I think it was situated above the operating theatres, in the tallest block. Other wards varied from thirty beds and over. On night duty I was usually in charge of three wards with about ninety patients in total.

I lived in the women’s services officers’ mess, about ten minutes walk from the hospital, there were about eighty of us, Australians, Canadians, QA’s, WVS, BRCS and Physiotherapists.

As far as I know most of the casualties arrived at the hospital via ambulance trains having been flown by Med-Air Evac from Korea to Iwakuni. I was actually in charge of this train for a whole month’s duty and helped to evacuate the first POW who were released during ‘Little Switch’ in April 1953. The train with one coach could accommodate 16 stretcher cases and about 10 walking wounded. Sometimes we had an extra coach of POW’s.

Lt Col P Wider QARANC was Matron and then relieved by Lt Col E Mackaness QARANC. The Australians and Canadians had a Matron each making three in all!

I was lucky enough to return to both Korea and Japan in 1990. I eventually found the old BCGH in Kure. A kind English-speaking Japanese Paediatrician took us up to the roof of the hospital to see if I could remember the view. It was the same with the lovely hill/mountain still there!! Matron would have had a fit if I had gone on the roof on my previous visit. I also visited Hiroshima, but best of all was Miya Jima, still as perfect as ever.